6 tips for making lunchboxes more exciting

Lunchbox tips: Kids wants more variety.
Lunchbox tips: Kids wants more variety. Photo: Getty Images

If your kids aren't eating their lunch it probably means they don't like it.

A new survey found 62 per cent of Australian children don't like the food their parents packed in their lunchbox.

Additionally, the research from Beef and Lamb found 50 per cent of parents would rather their kids eat anything rather than nothing at all.

Meaning, Aussie kids may not be meeting the Standard Australian Dietary Guidelines.

That said, 75 per cent of children would prefer more variety in their lunchbox.

Accredited practicing nutritionist Jessica Beaton from One Handed Cooks said the results were surprising but in a good way.

"Children actually want the variety and it's telling us that they want a say in what goes into their lunchbox, she said.

"They're saying they do want to enjoy nutritious lunchbox elements."

At the same time, parents are putting together a fancy lunch full of foods their child has never eaten and expecting them to eat it.

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"But if they put a couple of elements they know their children will eat and enjoy and balance those out with some foods that are more healthy, [this] will help encourage kids to become more familiar with them," said Beaton.

Making a healthy lunch for your children doesn't have to be a chore, in fact, it can be as simple as using leftovers from last night's dinner says Beaton.

"If you had beef meatballs you can take some of the meatballs out of the sauce and slice them on a sandwich with some avocado and lettuce," she said.

Beaton suggests using a five point checklist to simplify what you pack for your child's lunch.

This includes packing a good protein, "Like red meat, poultry, cheese, eggs or some tuna and then choosing quality carbohydrates to go with that. This helps keep children feel satisfied while giving them energy to concentrate in the classroom."

Next, choose a quality carbohydrate like wholegrain bread or wraps. Add some vegetables either on the wrap or sliced, followed by a piece of fruit and of course a bottle of water.

"It's a good little checklist for parents to easily see, OK there are protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruit and water. It's a good base and parents can feel comfortable they've got a nutritious option," said Beaton.

6 tips for making lunchboxes more exciting

  • Avoid including the same food prepared in the same way in the lunchbox over two consecutive days.
  • Ensure the food you include is easy to eat, as kids are usually ready to run around and play during their breaks from the classroom.
  • Maintain a variety of foods at both meal and snack time – aim to include two options at each snack, i.e. yoghurt and fruit or dip and vegetables.
  • If you are including a new food item make sure there are at least two other nutritious items you know they will accept and enjoy. Always remember it can take 10 – 20 exposures to a new food before your child may feel comfortable enough to accept it and enjoy it.
  • Giving food 'life' can encourage kids to gobble up their lunch. Adding a face or personality to food will give your kids an added interest in eating their lunch.
  • Try new foods at home as well as in their lunchbox to encourage acceptance.